Healthy mind

The most common negative thoughts


Find out which are the most frequent negative thoughts we have. These thoughts have the power to limit us and stunt our development. Knowing them is the first step to change them

Negative thoughts are those that induce fear, anxiety, and stress. Therefore, they can cause us great psychological discomfort, significantly affecting our mental health.  

Since we can remember, the head begins to invade us with all kinds of ideas and thoughts. This is more than positive as it helps us develop the cognitive and creative part of our brain. However, what happens in there can also turn against us without warning and with the sole objective of playing all kinds of tricks on us since different types of negative thoughts can appear.

The most common negative thoughts

Here is a list of some of the most common negative thoughts, explaining what each of them consists of. Thus, you can identify them and try to avoid them.

1. Dichotomous thinking

Dichotomous thinking is a  rigid and inflexible type of thinking, with no nuances between black and white. Therefore, it is based on the assumption of two mutually exclusive categories, ignoring the intermediate elements and other nuances.

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That is, it is about those thoughts that are located in the extremes. For example:

  • “You are with me or against me.”
  • “Either I do it well or I don’t.”
  • “All or nothing.”
  • “Now or never.”

2. Fear of what they will say

Who has not ever gone down the street thinking about “what will they say”? This increases especially when we think that we are not dressed properly, or we have to speak in public, which is very negative for ourselves since we cannot live pending others. 

Remember that everyone can make mistakes and that what is really important is what you believe about yourself. 

3. Wanting to have everything under control

When we vehemently believe that something can go wrong, our mind will support this idea and recommend that we abandon our endeavor , with thoughts such as:

  • “It sure is going to go wrong.”
  • “I’m not good for this.”
  • “It’s not worth trying.”

There are many negative thoughts that the only thing they will do is that we always stay in the comfort zone. But remember that he who “does not risk, does not win” Negative thoughts can cause us to never get out of our comfort zone.

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4. Generalize the negative

Some people tend to stick with the negative. For this reason, it is normal that when something bad happens, they believe that it will become a universal norm. Success often comes after a multitude of failures. Saying that something bad will always happen because it happened only once is meaningless.

5. Disqualify both ourselves and the rest

When we conflict with ourselves or with anyone close to us, it is normal for irrational thoughts to arise in our mind such as:

  1. “This person is worthless.”
  2. “But what nonsense are you saying.”
  3. “I really like you.”

But you should never get carried away by anger or impulsiveness, as it only serves to draw hasty conclusions that, later, we may regret.

6. Dramatize the situation

Who has not ever thought “what will become of me” or “I will never find someone like me again” after suffering a love breakup? If we want to overcome these situations, it is best not to exaggerate everything and have future prospects. Lots of people have gone through your thing (or even worse), and all have been able to rebuild their lives and move on. Negative thoughts feed off how dramatic you can be.

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Thought influences action: negativity calls for more negativity

If we really think that something can go wrong, it is obvious that it will go wrong. This is called a self-fulfilling prophecy. But what happened will not be a matter of fate or bad luck, as some say, but of the negativity that invades our minds and affects our capacity for action, which will produce a chain effect with dire consequences for our self-esteem.

According to Beck (1983), negative thoughts are rigid, inflexible, absolutist. They also have the form of “I have to,” “I must think of.” On the other hand, positive thoughts are flexible, possible, adaptive. And they have the form of “I would like it to,” “I would like it to.” 

So by changing the way we think, we can change the way we feel. And, therefore, our way of behaving. New adaptive thinking patterns are worth learning through, for example, cognitive psychotherapy.



    • Beck, AT, Rush, AJ, Shaw, BF, & Emery, G. (1983). Cognitive therapy for depression . Brouwer.
    • Benavides, J. (2014). Thought and happiness: the gaze of Albert Ellis. Poiesis ,  1 (28).
    • Femintíez-Berrocef, P., Ramos, N., & Extremera, N. (2001). Emotional intelligence, chronic suppression of thoughts and psychological adjustment. Psychology Bulletin ,  70 , 79-95.
    • Marín, NL (2006). The rational emotional therapy of Albert Ellis. Northern Mental Health ,  6 (25), 16.

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